Beating the heat!

Oct. 14, 2016; Tucson, AZ

Still in the mid-90's every day!

So hot for this Swede from the Pacific Northwest!  So, in addition to staying places where I can run the AC for about 10 hours a day, I've been outfitting the rig for the extended sun and heat.

To help the tires, I added a set of sun blockers I got on sale at Camping World.

On sale at Camping World: BoGo!

For the car, I added a reflectix panel for the non-tinted side window to go along with the windshield sun screen.

I have front and side awning sun blockers ordered from Amazon - they'll be here by the end of the week.    Carefree Sunblocker   and Carefree Side Blocker

Carefree 88008802 Black Sideblocker       Carefree 82158802 Black 6' x 15' Sunblocker

This tarp provides shade for my Yeti Cooler - helping it keep ice for a few more glasses of iced Tea or an 'adult beverage'.

And, when all else fails . . . 

I can lounge by the pool.

Sometimes it's worth it to stay in an RV Resort - it's still a big parking lot, but the 'extras' are worth it right now.  Especially the pool!

I'm currently staying at Adventure Bound (previously Cactus Country) RV Resort.  In addition to full hook-ups (yay, AC!), there is a laundromat, a recreation room, library, free cable TV and wi-fi.  I can have my mail forwarded here, there is a nice cactus garden and the landscaping is really nice.  It's pretty convenient for shopping - so, I'm getting re-stocked.  I would definitely stay here again.

They name the 'streets' for different types of cacti

To me, Palm Trees just scream 'I'm on vacation' .

Typical landscaping

More landscaping

The cactus garden walk is also very informative with lots of excellent specimens.

I really like the variegated color on this agave.

The Ocotillas are really tall!

Love the orange glow to the barbs in the sunlight!

Very yellow!

Pretty sure that this is the rare 'Saguaro Metallica'

Barrel cactus that's still in bloom

Some of these agaves come up to my shoulder!

Javalina Havoc - a surprise fiberglass trailer meet-up!

10/4/2016; Davis Mountains State Park, Ft Davis TX

Hmmm . . . . this is a lot of Casita Trailers . . . . 

As I pulled into the State Park, I saw first one, then three, then way too many little fiberglass trailers to be a mere coincidence.  Then, I saw several Escape Trailers!  Sure enough, turns out that I have stumbled into Javalina Havoc - an annual gathering for fiberglass trailer folk.  And - even better, I was in time for a potluck!

I signed up for an extra night of camping, threw together a couple platters of crudite and other appetizers and prepared to socialize!!

The potluck was at 2pm - a little early for my next local find. 

Occulto - Local micro-brew with a difference!

It seems that a lot of Texas beer is 3.2% (yuck).  So, I was looking for something a bit different.  And, I found it in Occulto - a 6.0% ale that is blended with Blue Agave - aged in Tequilla barrel staves.
It is quite tasty and may be supplanting Grower's Peach Cider as my favorite 'adult beverage'.

My traveling companion, Lily, slouched in the background, had just a taste - see what it did to her!

Historic Overland Trail - Ft Davis, TX

10/4/2016 - Davis Mountains State Park, Ft Davis, TX

Ft Davis - a stop for me and a historic stop along the old Overland Trail

The Overland Trail was a major route for early pioneers traveling between San Antonio and El Paso.  Ft. Davis was commissioned to protect travelers from Indian Raiders and from general misfortunes that occurred along the trail - many more soldiers and travelers died from disease and accidents than from conflict with the Native Americans who also traveled the area.

Only the foundations remain of many of the over 100 buildings the fort contained at it's height.

Officers Row

Fort Davis was first built in the late 1850's; it was abandoned during the Civil War and then rebuilt afterwards where it remained open until the late 1880's.  I was confused by foundations from the 2 sets of ruins - they ran at an angle to each other.  Then I read that the first buildings had been oriented to true North, while the second build was oriented to magnetic North.  Such a military thing - to orient the entire fort and all it's buildings to such a precise plan.  Their only concession to the land was placing the fort at the base of the mountains in a box canyon for some protection from the winds.

Sign explaining the odd relationship of the old building foundations to surviving buildings from the second build.

 Among it's contingent of soldiers was cavalry Troop H - Buffalo Soldiers.  

One of the restored Enlisted Men's Barracks

The hospital facility was considered the best west of San Antonio.

The base Chapel - church, school, and social center of the community

The history surrounding the Overland Trail got me thinking about Texas roads

From Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to plant bluebells along many of the highways, to the famous 'Don't Mess with Texas' campaign to discourage litter, Texas highways are something else.

I remember as a kid, my Dad would have us close our eyes as we got close to the Texas border - he wanted to see if we could tell when we crossed into Texas.  Invariably, we could - the difference in the quality of the road surfaces was that obvious.

Texas has really, really, really a lot of long, straight roads with not much in between towns.  However, there are an impressive number of 'picnic areas'.  Picnic areas vary from full rest-areas (with vending machines and bathrooms), to simple pull-offs big enough for a semi and a few cars.  They all have trash bins and most have shaded picnic benches and grills.  I find it rather extraordinary!

Hiking – more history and meeting the local flora and fauna

9/30/2016; Big Bend National Park

Ruins of old pioneer ranches are still a desert oasis

Early pioneers dug wells that in some cases are still pumping water that support wildlife and non-native trees that they planted (cottonwood, pecan, figs).  I enjoyed the shade and coolness of a couple of these - besides the windmills, little else remains.  I saw the foundation of a dugout house and a partial adobe wall.  But, I like that the windmills are still running and producing water. Dugout Wells and the Sam Nail ranch are great places to rest a bit and bird watch.

The desert is full of stinging, biting, poking things!

Well, that's not exactly a news flash - but if you're careful, only the mosquitos will actually get you.

Agave - or Century Plant

There's been so much rain that the Ocotillo is leafed out and blooming!

englemans prickly pear

Blind PP - no big spines - lots of tiny hairlike spines

3-4 inch spines - red turning to tan


Much harder to photograph the moving things . . .

I saw deer and 3 bears, but moving too fast to get good pics.  The bear were so black they looked like bear-shaped cutouts in the landscape.

Bear butt - crossed the road and disappeared up the hillside.  I saw this same bear on 3 different occasions

I know that they are near - just where??

You see signs of javelina all over the place - but they've been elusive.

Prickly pear pad provided lunch for some javelina

Javelina print in the sand

I'll spare you the pics of javelina scat.  So sad, no sightings of actual javelina.

Bug day!

One day I saw a tarantula crossing the road.  I swerved to avoid hitting it and was sad that there wasn't a pullover so I could photograph it.  Then, the next time I stopped at an overlook, there was a tarantula!  And, for the rest of the day, I saw tarantulas every where I stopped - over a distance of about 40 miles.  

After that day, I haven't seen a single tarantula.

Saw these guys everywhere!

Greater Earless Lizard

Huge! and so brightly colored

Time to say goodbye to Big Bend for this trip

Pioneer History in the Park

9/29/2016; Big Bend National Park

Castalon and Cottonwood Campground

Near the Cottonwood Campground is the Castalon Visitor Center and Store.  Nearby are several buildings dating back to the early 1900’s when the area served as a commercial center for trade and supply between nearby farming and ranching operations, both on the Mexican and US sides of the border.  It also served as a military outpost.

This store was called Las Harmonias - a hopeful call for harmony among the many varied peoples who traded there.

Boquillas Del Carmen, Mexico

On the other side of the park, near the Rio Grande Village campground complex, the ties with Mexico are even stronger.  A few days a week, there is a border crossing opened for tourists to travel to Boquillas Mexico – an old mining town that you can see from the US side of the river.  Near Boquillas Canyon lie some of the foundations to an ‘Aerial Tramway’ that spanned the Rio Grande from 1915-1919 transporting zinc, silver, and lead ore from mines in Boquillas to the US where it was then trucked to Marathon, Tx to a rail head. The tramway transported 70 tons of ore per hour across the border.

Boquilas Del Carmen

Ore Bucket

One of 4 of the foundation areas for the first tramway support from the river

Borders are really only marks on a map

As you hike along the Rio Grande, you can’t help but notice that the land across the river is identical to land where you are walking – same geological features, same desert plants, same birds flying back and forth.  Unlike on maps, the ground isn’t a different color.   As you hike, canoes and small boats are beached on the Mexican side of the river; you can see small palapas or shade-shelters nearby with folks making small wire sculptures, bags, and painted hiking staffs; these hand-crafted souvenirs are placed along the most popular hikes with an ‘honor jar’.  I met a gentleman selling souvenirs and offering Mexican Songs for sale as I hiked the Boquillas Canyon.  I remembered enough Spanish to have a short conversation (Hello, how are you; no, I don’t want to buy anything).